There are 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, of which 25.4 million are displaced outside their countries of origin. Since the Second World War, the dominant response to refugees has been providing food, shelter and basic services to refugee populations, primarily in designated camps and in most part through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This "care and maintenance" model has led to unfair burdens on countries hosting refugees and has frustrated international donors that cover the direct financial costs of the support, particularly in situations of protracted displacement where refugee populations live in exile for five consecutive years or more after their initial displacement, and which has been become the norm.
Recognizing the long-term nature of many displacement situations, many efforts have been made over the years to develop new models of refugee assistance that would integrate refugees into development-oriented programs allowing them to develop self-sufficiency and, more recently, to contribute to economic development in the host countries.
Access to labor markets is considered a key aspect in such models.
The project "Refugees for Development" aims to generate new theoretical and practical knowledge on the integration of development approaches into forced displacement responses by studying the experiences from three such initiatives: